Data brings clash of the Mary River turtle saviours

A WILDLIFE Queensland fundraising effort to save the Mary River Turtle has come under fire from another conservation group which has accused the campaign of actively deceiving the public in an attempt to raise funds.

The campaign, which came to a close on Monday, will have the money raised handed to the Tiaro and District Landcare Group for the purpose of protecting turtle nesting sites along parts of the river.

The campaign has raised more than $8000, falling short of its overall target of $30,000.

However Australian Freshwater Turtles, an organisation dedicated to educating the public about the species, has questioned the figures used in the campaign, saying the projected cost to protect each nest is inflated by more than 700%.

"The wording in the campaign gives the impression that all will be lost for the Mary River Turtle if this project does not go ahead," said Gabrielle Latta of AFT.

"Our volunteers have offered data and assistance to Tiaro Landcare Group on numerous occasions, since 2005, and they are fully aware that the turtle is breeding successfully in other parts of the river.

"Our studies also found that the in-stream habitat in the Tiaro area simply does not support the survival of juveniles."

Wildlife Queensland policies and campaigns manager Des Boyland dismissed the claims, saying tried and established practices provide the basis for cost estimations.

 "Tiaro and District Landcare Group has a credible record of successfully employing strategies to afford protection to the nesting sites of this turtle," Mr Boyland said

"Prior to choosing this species for one of our appeals, consultation occurred with the Department of Environmental Heritage and with Dr Col Limpus, a recognised authority on turtles."

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